I was born […] Lanao del Norte, Philippines. Since birth, my parents were devoted Seventh Day Adventists, one of the thousand branches in Christendom. I was a former Evangelist of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). From childhood until I became Muslim in 1981, I had been a devoted SDA.
[…] My father was a former member of the ILAGA and CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force) formed by a former dictator, President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. The Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association (ILAGA) is the name given to a cultic group of Christians who are trained to grab Muslim lands and annihilate Muslims in Southern Philippines. […] The ILAGA members believe that the more Muslims they kill, the more power they will possess.
[…] In childhood I was indoctrinated (brainwashed) that Muslims are pagans. We believed that Muslims are warlike people, traitors, happy to kill non-Muslims, lawless, and all negative attributes of humanity are in the Muslims’ doctrines. Actually, when I was a Christian, I did not know the difference between Islam, Muslim, and Moros—I believed they were all synonymous with paganism. What I knew about Muslims was that "they were pagans and idiots!"'
[…] I was brought up in a conservative Christian educational institution (church school). In my early days of childhood, we were trained to open the Bible quickly and explain the meaning of the text day and night. […]
In 1981, I was trained extensively in Pagadian City, Philippines how to preach Christianity, particularly in the Muslim community, and with the pretext of selling medical books under the banner of Adventism. We were later formed into groups and were assigned in Zamboanga City, Southern Philippines to conduct house-to-house and office-to-office evangelism.
Our main targets were to raise funds and to spread our doctrines and convert the Muslims to Christianity (Adventism). Even today there are Christian Institutions in the heart of the Muslim community in Mindanao whose main motive is to gradually Christianize the Muslims.
One day in Zamboanga City, I was assigned to the Al-Malin Shipping Line Office, district of Santa Barbara, to do our jobs. That is where I had my first encounter with a Muslim intellectual. His name is Najeeb Razul Fernandez, formerly Samuel Fernandez, who was also a former Seventh Day Adventist-Evangelist.
We discovered later that we were neighbors during our childhood, and our parents and his uncle’s family (Memong Fernandez) were close friends and neighbors.
I introduced myself to Mr. Najeeb Razul Fernandez. He warmly welcomed me and asked my purpose of visiting his office. He was a liaison officer that time at Al-Malin Shipping Line Office. He asked me, “Are you Seventh Day Adventist?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”
“Of course! We would not be a Seventh Day Adventist unless we believe and follow Jesus Christ!”
He continued, “Your religion is Seventh Day Adventist, was Jesus Christ a Seventh Day Adventist?”
I knew that if I answer “yes,” the next question would be; “Can you show me in your Bible that Jesus Christ was a Seventh Day Adventist?” I knew well that there is no passage in the Bible that mentions that Jesus Christ was an Adventist! I was shocked at the question because in my experience I never encountered such a question in my life.
I tried my best to ignore his question, and I talked about things which were not related to his question. He repeated the question directly to my eyes, and said; “If you could not answer that question, please bring that question to your team leader and tell me his response.”
Then he related to me the true name and life of Jesus Christ, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, whose name is Issa Al-Maseeh ibn Maryam in the Muslim world. Jesus was a prophet and messenger of God.
The religion of the Muslims and the prophets of Allah is Islam. And in fact, the prophets of Allah (God) were Muslims. He also emphasized that Islam teaches about the Day of Resurrection, Judgment Day, Paradise, Hell-Fire, Angels, Prophethood, Morals, Divine Books, etc.
All these words were like thunderbolts that awakened me from a deep sleep! After I heard those words, I did convey them to my team leader, and I asked him what the religion of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ was. He did not answer; instead, I received a warning not to talk to Mr. Fernandez, or I will be excommunicated. My team leader’s reaction had pushed me to investigate what Islam is all about. It also sowed doubts about my belief being a Seventh Day Adventist.
If indeed my belief is the truth, I am not supposed to be afraid to deal with other religions! [End of part I]
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The Beginning: Early Life Trials of Clinton Sipes
I grew up in a dysfunctional family setting in the atmosphere of alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse that came from my father. […] I began to imitate what I was being exposed to, this process of imitation began unconsciously. […]
[…] I began to hang out with the young adult type who welcomed my willingness to participate with no reservations in anything under the title of alcohol, drugs, crime, violence and racism. […] After 3 years of this (reform period) I was released. I was a walking grenade.
[…] At 16, I found myself incarcerated serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in the California Youth Authority for robbery, assault and weapons charges. […] I began correspondence with the KKK, and upon my release on parole, I was a full-fledged card carrying hate-monger. […]
With this last violation of parole, at the age of 20, the search for peace began. […] In a haze of anger and rage, I found myself stripped naked in solitary confinement with not even a mattress. Only me and a styrofoam cup. I began to review my past and the negatives which brought me to this point of reduction to the lowest terms.
While I was there my daughter was born. I began to assess my future. […] I said to myself, “Clint, you must make a choice between this evil or a good future. […] I had become alienated from them. I began searching for a purity to purge the cancer of hate from inside me. […].
I became involved with human rights groups and I started my own human rights group.[…] My goal was to reach out to children to help them escape the environmental circumstances that had overwhelmed me once […] but I was still involved in crime. […]
It began upon my arrival to federal prison. An African American offered to assist me in my cosmetic needs. He said he was a Muslim, and Muslims are commanded to help those in need. It struck my interest to check this Islamic thing out. However, I was under the impression that this was a religion exclusively for African Americans. I was thinking, no way I can become a Muslim, I’m white!
Still, I asked this brother for some literature on Islam. I found out about the universality of it, how it transcends color, ethnicity and race. It sounded real and pure. It began to appeal to me. […] I was given a Quran, and as I read the translation, I felt the purity and truth of it. There was no hocus-pocus, no spookism, no mysticism, just plain, simple understanding of the “Truth.” When I heard the Adhan (the call to prayer) I felt a closeness to God that penetrated my heart and soul. After some research and study of the Quran, I discovered its total infallibility, no contradictions in it.
There are religions based on believing in certain sciences, multiple deities, the religion of 3 gods in one. I was a thinking man, and none of them made any logical sense to me.
Here was Islam, based on the belief in One God who created the creation itself out of nothing, and the fact that this book I was reading (Quran) had not one vowel or language changed in over 1400 years was a miracle in itself. Thus, I was sold on the oneness of God and the unity of Islam.
[…] There is only one God and one Religion, and religion is “Submission” to the one God. This is the meaning of Islam. […]
After years of falsehood, half-truths, following others on the road, and then, from within a place (prison) where more than one million people are cast away, the same environment that once honed my anger and hate to a razor sharpness was now the place where Islam greeted me and proceeded to change me into a “Servant of [the Source of] Peace.” […]
The Creator, Originator of the very existence of peace. There is no peace but the Peace of God (Whom all praise is due). I have found this Peace, I am now “Abdus Salam,” the slave and servant of The Originator of the one and only source of Peace...God, The Most High, Whom all praise is due.
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By Clinton Sipes
I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my journey to Islam as a new muslim and I feel that by sharing this experience I can help you on your journey through life. We are all born into different cultures, countries and religions; in what often seems a confusing and troubled world. Actually, when we examine the world around us, we can easily see what a troubled state it is in: war, poverty and crime. Need I go on? Yet when we look at our own upbringing and our education, how can we be sure that all the things that we have been told, are in reality the truth?
Unfortunately, most people in the world decide to try to hide and escape from the world’s problems rather than stand up and deal with the truth. Dealing with the truth is often the harder avenue to follow. The question is: Are you willing to stand up for the truth? Are you strong enough? Or, are you going to escape and hide like the rest?
I started my search for the truth a number of years ago. I wanted to find out the truth about the reality of our existence. Surely, to understand life correctly is the key to solving all the worldly problems that we are faced with today. I was born into a Christian family and this is where my journey began. I started to read the bible and ask questions. I quickly became unsatisfied. The priest told me, “You just need to have faith.” From reading the bible I found contradictions and things that were clearly wrong. Does God contradict himself? Does God lie? Of course not!
I moved on from Christianity, thinking the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians are corrupted so there is no way that I can find the truth from the false. I started finding out about Eastern Religions and Philosophies, particularly Buddhism. I spent a long time meditating in Buddhist temples and talking to the Buddhist monks. Actually, the meditation gave me a good clean feeling. The trouble was that it did not answer any of my questions about the reality of existence. Instead it carefully avoided them in a way that makes it seem stupid to even talk about.
I traveled to many parts of the world during my quest for the truth. I became very interested in tribal religions and the spiritualist way of thinking. I found that a lot of what these religions were saying had truth in them, but I could never accept the whole religion as the truth. This was the same as where I started with Christianity!
I began to think that there was truth in everything and it did not really matter what you believed in or what you followed. […]
I felt confused, I fell to the floor and prayed, “Oh, please God, I am so confused, please guide me to the truth.” This is when I discovered Islam.
Of course I always knew something about Islam, but only what we naively hear in the West. I was surprised though by what I found. The more that I read the Quran and asked questions about what Islam taught, the more truths I received. The striking difference between Islam and every other religion is that Islam is the only religion that makes a strict distinction between the Creator and the creation. In Islam, we worship the Creator. Simple. […] In fact, in Islam, the only sin that God will not forgive is the worship of creation.
However, the truth of Islam can be found in the Quran. The Quran is like a guide book to life. In it you will find answers to all questions. […] I had all the pieces all along but I just did not know how to fix them together.
I would therefore like to ask you to consider Islam now. The true Islam as described in the Quran. Not the Islam that we get taught about in the West. You may at least be able to cut down your journey in search of the truth about life. I pray for your success, regardless.
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By Bruce Paterson